In the popular media, “weather whiplash” describes how rapid changes in weather, from drought to deluge or wildfire to downpour, can result in substantial economic and social costs. Scientists have recently adopted the “weather whiplash” concept to illustrate extreme changes in weather conditions. Missing from both the popular media and scientific literature is an understanding of how rapid reversals in winter weather can impact natural systems and human communities. This seminar will present new conceptual and quantitative frameworks for understanding the drivers and impacts of winter weather whiplash events on both ecosystems and people. A deeper understanding of these events, the ways in which they have changed over time, and the extent of their impacts is needed in order to mitigate their potential risks.
Dr. Alix Contosta is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Earth Systems Research Center. She studies winter ecology and the winter-to-spring transition, especially the ways in which climate change impacts terrestrial ecosystems during these periods. She also explores interactions between land use and climate, with emphasis on carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions from ecosystems under a variety of land uses and management regimes. Dr. Contosta utilizes a combination of innovative field and lab experiments, state-of-the-art environmental sensors, and data-model integration to pursue her research agenda.